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Canada into women’s under-18 hockey championship final with 3-2 OT win over Finland

Women to face Sweden for gold Sunday
A Hockey Canada logo is seen in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Alex Law scored twice, including the overtime winner, as Canada edged Finland 3-2 in a women’s world under-18 hockey championship semifinal Saturday.

Canada will face Sweden for the gold medal Sunday.

Law’s OT winner at 7:32 was first credited to defender Ava Murphy, although it was Law’s wrist shot that sneaked under Kerttu Kuja-Halkola.

Murphy skated the puck from the defensive to offensive zone and dished to Law in open ice. Law’s shot got underneath Finland’s goalie, who kicked the puck into her own net to end three-on-three overtime.

Law and Abby Stonehouse scored in regulation time for Canada with assistant captain Emma Pais contributing a pair of assists for the defending champions.

Canadian goaltender Hannah Clark stopped 24 shots for the victory.

Sanni Vanhanen and Paulina Salonen scored for the Finns. Kuja-Halkola made 38 saves in the loss.

“I think we came out a little flat. The Finns came out flying, had a great forecheck going that really took away our speed,” said Canadian coach Courtney Birchard-Kessel. “It took us a while to settle in and get our feet under us, but we found a way to win.

“This is such an amazing experience with your family watching back home, it is so exciting. Heading into the gold-medal game, I think it is an incredible experience; it is going to be packed playing against Sweden. It is something our players will remember for the rest of their lives.”

Canada is chasing repeat gold in the women’s under-18 tournament after beating the U.S. 3-2 in last year’s final in Madison, Wis.

The Canadians killed off a too-many-player penalty starting at 2:10 in overtime in Saturday’s semifinal. Canada took eight minor penalties in the game to Finland’s one.

Canada trailed 2-1 in the third period when Law scored an equalizer at 12:39. She drove in from the wing and slung a wrist shot over Kuja-Halkola’s right shoulder.

Salonen scored a go-ahead goal for the Finns just eight seconds into the third period.

Finland won the faceoff and pushed the puck into the offensive zone, where Salonen took advantage of a broken play to beat Clark with a low shot stick side.

The Finns trailing 1-0 after the first period, Vanhanen drew her team even at 11:56 of the second. She converted a rebound following Julia Schalin’s effort driving the net from the corner.

Stonehouse scored her second goal of the tournament tipping a Pais shot from the point by Kuja-Halkola at 9:47 of the opening period.

“As a team it was not a perfect performance, but through the 60-plus minutes we had perfect effort at least,” said Law. “We gave it our all, worked as a team, moved the puck and it ended up working out in our favour.

“We have put so much work into this, (playing for gold) is something we have all dreamed about. We need to move the puck quickly, skate hard and have positive energy on the bench and I think we can take home gold.”

Sweden doubled the U.S. 2-1 in Saturday’s earlier semifinal to advance to the championship game for just the second time in the 15-year history of the tournament.

The U.S. fell short of the final for the first time and plays Finland for bronze Sunday.

Canada topped Pool A at 3-0 to earn a bye to Saturday’s semifinal.

The Canadians had lost 4-3 to the Finns in a pre-tournament game, but thumped them 8-0 in the preliminary round.

Felicia Frank made 37 saves in Sweden’s net in the semifinal win over the U.S.

Defenders Mira Junkager and Astrid Lindeberg scored for the Swedes, and Lucia Digirolamo countered for the U.S.

Sweden reached the final in 2018 when they lost 9-3 to the Americans in Dmitrov, Russia.

Czechia doubled Slovakia 6-3 in the fifth-place game.

Slovakia’s Nela Lopusanova, who is just 14 years old, was the tournament leader in scoring with nine goals and three assists in five games.

The Canadian Press

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